The Inmates Committee (IC) is in a glorious social lather. That is, the Performance and the Kitchen Sub-Committees are employing all their powers to the max, ensuring no-one at FEC goes lonely or unfed during The Season. Grumpy old men and bitchy old women seldom seen from one month to the next turn up for free food and drinks at various events. The more dishevelled-looking were apparently dragged out, limply protesting, from the privacy of their TV recliners by the triumphant efforts of Ms Etoile and Ophelia smiling from ear to ear.
The communal tree was trimmed without the more extreme
drinking eggnog accidents as in
years past. Probably due to the thimbles of rum Thomas the Brave was
doling out. The minute the unsatisfactory proportions were spotted,
the regular alcoholics quickly retired to their own devices. The
carol singing concert went without a hitch unless one counts the deep
rumble of Luther's voice as he solemnly veered off into unscheduled
solos. Absent-minded at the best of times, he has a sweet nature so
Therefore all FEC operations were humming along like a charm and Mr OC of the IC has been at his self-congratulatory best. Then the Christmas brunch event arrives a week before Christmas.
It is so well-attended the dining room is a massive traffic jam of walkers and wheelchairs. That ‒ of course ‒ leads to crankiness and clandestine shoving matches. Sheila is trying to create a semblance of order in the buffet lineup. Someone steps on the train of Sally's dress ripping it up the middle. Why she has a dress with a train is still a mystery. Sally is no shrinking violet even if she says she is 90 years old. She slugs the closest guy behind her, whose plate of food goes flying to spatter the ducking bystanders.
Mouthy Monica shrieks, because she always does at the drop of a hat. Fragrant Elayne falls down because she's never too steady. Jiminy Crickets shoulders his way through the crowd to referee but only succeeds in upsetting a few more plates. Marietta's tiny creepy dogs — she sneaked them in — get dumped from their doll carriage and go skittering and squealing in terror among a forest of trembling legs. Jeremy is wiping ketchup off his face along with half his lipstick. The unnerved McElroy flails his cane across all the innocent ankles he can reach. Trevor starts emoting like a Shakespearean soldier while the fainting Bella keels into the mac'n'cheese casserole.
Geriatric war looks like a certainty until a hair-raising distraction erupts at the main door. It's Barry howling like a banshee, locked out, lost his keys. No-one seems inclined to admit him since Barry is a walking bipolar wasps' nest to be avoided at all costs and now clearly at the height of his upper pole as opposed to the lower one when he leans over his balcony threatening to jump. We know his manic self is all bark but he is just so fiercely LOUD. Mr. OC and Dominic peer anxiously through the glass and try weakly to pacify him. Then Thomas the Brave lives up to his name, steps forward, and opens the door.
Barry hurls forward shouting incoherent abuse. Into the dining room melee he surges, a small contingent of fluttering ineffectuals in his wake. "I'll call my lawyer!" he rants, "You [
deleted] can't keep me out of
here! Who stole my keys? Was it you, Crickets? You're a scavenger,
you won't get away with it! Or McElroy, you [ deleted]
asshole! You owe me! Archie, how many pension cheques have you
stolen?! I can prove it! You can't fool me! None of you. I'll see all
you [ deleted] in court! Or hanged!" And so on.
With suitably repetitious adjectives and nouns.
The torn dress incident is all but forgotten. Scrambled eggs have congealed like clumps of fimo clay. Chocolate cookies are strewn crumbled across the floor with the odd sausage and bits of muffin. Sandor the Super — specially-invited guest to this semi-gala event — is muttering maledictions about the cleaning-up prospects, winding himself up for a full-blown mittel-european broadside despite the vocal competition. Sixteen people are wailing in tears.
"And you," Barry pokes his finger at Thomas, "you think you run this place and you're nothing but an incompetent [
goofball. Attitude adjustment!!"
By this time our ever-polite neighbourhood constables are on the scene to escort the outraged Barry to a patrol car. It takes some doing. Handcuffs and a perp walk facilitate a nice chat in the back seat. The dinner music pianist has been waiting in her overcoat for this opportunity to briskly swish out the door, never to be seen again. Speaking of low notes, one of the offensive tiny dogs escapes at the same time. Good riddance, thinks Sheila, batting his brother into a corner.
The FEC Christmas Dinner is still to come. Pass the smelling salts. Or the rum.